Discarded heroin syringe (Photo: Thomas Marthinsen/Flickr/Creative Commons).

In a better world, the conveniently timed post-election release of statistics showing Alberta had the deadliest month on record in April for fatal drug poisonings would have discredited the “Alberta Model” for treating addiction. 

Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Tragically, that is unlikely to happen.

Alberta’s United Conservative Party is addicted to inflicting ideological solutions on real world problems, so the probability is high no one in Premier Danielle Smith’s government will be tempted to reassess an approach that is clearly shaping up as a deadly failure. 

Statistics released by Alberta’s Substance Use Surveillance System on Monday showed that 179 human beings died from drug overdoses in Alberta in April. 

Media reported that deaths from drug poisonings had increased by 46 per cent compared with April 2022 and brought the total number of deaths so far this year to 613. This is dramatically higher than the rate of overdose deaths before the pandemic – 51 in April 2019. 

It was certainly no coincidence that Premier Smith waited until after the May 29 provincial election to report the bad news. “It is utterly unconscionable that she was lying about her success while six Albertans were dying every single day,” Edmonton-Riverview MLA Lori Sigurdson said in an NDP news release Monday. 

Mental Health and Addiction Minister Dan Williams (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

But whatever the statistics say, it is all but guaranteed the UCP will double down on its focus on drug abstinence, coerced treatment, and blaming the victims of drug addiction, and continue to oppose harm-reduction measures, based on sometimes spurious and usually ideological grounds. 

Many more Albertans are likely to die as a result.

This is not to say that other jurisdictions that have taken a different approach to Alberta’s unforgiving application of social conservative ideology to a generational tragedy do not have high death rates from opioid street drugs as well. 

The toll continues to be high in British Columbia, where the provincial government has worked with Ottawa to decriminalize small amounts of drugs and has a much more open attitude toward safe consumption clinics than Alberta. However, in May there were signs B.C.’s strategy was working to reduce deaths, with a 16 per cent decrease from May 2022 and a 19-per-cent decrease from the previous month. 

Factors cited by the province’s chief coroner, CTV reported, included safe consumption clinics, overdose prevention sites, and safer supply in some communities.

But there is no question the opioid catastrophe plaguing every jurisdiction in North American is not going to go away anywhere soon. 

Edmonton-Riverview NDP MLA Lori Sigurdson (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

It should be obvious, though, that Alberta’s ideologically driven refusal to countenance safe consumption efforts, decriminalization, safe supply and other harm-mitigation measures is bound to have tragic consequences. 

The Smith Government’s punitive, War-on-Drugs approach – proven ineffective for nearly half a century – is deeply entrenched in the United Conservative Party’s political DNA. 

Consider the “joint statement” issued Monday by Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis and Mental Health and Addiction Minister Dan Williams, supposedly to coincide with the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking but more likely intended as a rhetorical antidote to the bad news contained in the latest drug-death statistics.

“The criminal actions of drug traffickers are abhorrent and will not be tolerated by Alberta’s government,” blustered Mr. Ellis, a former Calgary cop, in the press release. “We must have zero tolerance for the manufacturing, trafficking and dealing of these deadly and dangerous drugs.”

This belligerent and futile boilerplate could have come right out of the mouth of Richard Nixon, the American President who declared War on Drugs in 1971. We all know how that worked out. 

While much of the rest of the world edges toward the promising Portugal Model, Alberta is stuck in the 1970s with decades of failure and tragedy ahead. This is not reassuring. 

But the ideology of abstinence appeals to segments of the UCP’s social conservative base, even as many of the working people the party purports to champion succumb to the deadly allure of opioids, legal and illegal. 

As for Mr. Williams – apparently appointed to a health-related portfolio on the strength of his history of anti-abortion activism and best known for swilling illicit beer in the Chamber of the Alberta Legislature – he promised Albertans “the opportunity to pursue recovery,” but not necessarily the opportunity to survive long enough to take advantage of it. 

In the end, this is just more evidence of the Smith government doubling down on the abstinence and recovery model that may not work, but delivers big money for the UCP’s friends and family in the recovery business.

Naturally, it also appeals to the far right’s fondness for violent rhetoric, coercive responses, and simplistic solutions that privilege property and profit over humanity. 

Notley names NDP critics, government leaders

With a 38-member caucus, Alberta’s enlarged NDP Opposition certainly has the resources to torment the UCP’s supersized cabinet. 

Alberta Opposition Leader Rachel Notley (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Whether the NDP MLAs will torment the government effectively remains to be seen. That will need to mean more of what Opposition Leader Rachel Notley called “putting forward our own ideas” and less of “holding Premier Danielle Smith to account for breaking the law and threatening Alberta’s democracy.”

Leastways, it will if Ms. Notley is serious about “putting ourselves in a position to form the next provincial government.”

Ms. Notley announced the NDP’s critics and caucus leaders yesterday, and there’s literally something for everyone. Click here to see who has been assigned to what.

A few words on that Postmedia-Torstar merger scheme

Today’s news that Postmedia, Canada’s original zombie newspaper chain, and the once-great Toronto Star have hatched a plot to combine their moribund and money-losing assets into an even bigger disaster may be appalling, but it’s no shock. 

The Toronto Star … fades to black (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Having essentially one newspaper chain – and one owned by foreign vulture capitalists at that – would be, in the words of the utterly ignored 1981 Royal Commission on Newspapers, “entirely unacceptable for a democratic society.” 

I have said plenty in the past about U.S.-owned Postmedia’s role in the destruction of Canadian journalism and the incomprehensible and ironic wastefulness of keeping these failing organs on life support with taxpayer dollars so they can churn out more far-right propaganda about the benefits of the market. 

Tonight, I will only say this: Every time Postmedia announces a plan to buy more newspapers, it promises to keep them independent and alive, and each time it breaks its promise and closes many and amalgamates others. Its multitude of laughably bad websites all publish the same drivel with little local content. 

When the Star’s and Postmedia’s bosses said yesterday they need to join forces to fend off an “existential threat,” readers can be assured that the result will be more closed newspapers, more lousy near-identical websites, and more laid-off journalists.

If the Competition Bureau allows this merger, it too should be face an existential threat as a purposeless waste of money. 

Join the Conversation


  1. RE: Postmedia-Torstar merger.

    Sad day. I suppose Chantal Hebert will have to start her own blog soon.

    This is a great example of how newspapers and TV have become privately owned propaganda empires for the super rich. Anyone clutching their pearls about young people not consuming news from the approved sources should give their heads a shake.

    Problem is that when we go online for news, youtube/google algorithms feed us things we want to see – ie: “proof” that I’m right again just like always and everyone who disagrees with me is stupid and bad.

    For anyone hoping to avoid falling into an information silo I’d recommend this: https://ground.news/ A news aggregator that shows stories ignored by sources it considers left or right. Not a perfect solution, but better than nothing.

  2. Oh, forgot to opine about the OD crisis. Too bad there isn’t a political party concerned with fiscal responsibility to point out that raising and educating a Canadian citizen costs the taxpayer a ton of money, and when they stop going to work and paying taxes because they’re dead we lose that investment, and blaming them for being dead doesn’t actually recoup our losses. Or a political party concerned with national security to point out that nations are made up of people and “national security” means we don’t just sit idly by and watch those people get killed off in massive numbers when there are evidence-based solutions we could be implementing to mitigate the problem.

  3. If we still act as if there is a war on drugs, all these decades later, then it should also be evident by now we are losing or have lost the war.

    Parties like the UCP still peddle this stuff not because it works, but because it allows them and their supporters to feel morally superior to others. So it does get or keep some political support for them. It is a very good question whether Smith knew that war was not going so well when recently during the election she tried to give voters the impression it was.

    Yes, the opposition will need to better present its own ideas to win in the future, but a big part of being an effective opposition is also to challenge the government’s approach. A big challenge is not just falling into the tempting trap of just attacking Smith, which is too easy at times, but holding the whole UCP government to account for its bad ideas.

    Perhaps more big media mergers will finally show what is already plain to see. Canada’s competition laws these days are a joke. I can count on a bit more than one hand the number of big banks, on two fingers the number of major airlines, somewhere between is the number of large grocery chains and one one finger the number of national newspaper chains. That is not a free market. The correct terms are oligopoly, duopoly and monopoly. Until this changes customers will continue to be poorly served and suffer.

    1. There never was a war on drugs, there was a war on the political enemies of rich people. For a modern example, the Sackler family is rich, white, and responsible for uncountable deaths. They’ll not only never see the inside of a prison cell, they’ll be richer when they are done paying their fine than they were when they started.

      As far as the original motives, this excerpt is from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_drugs:

      “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

      — John Ehrlichman, to Dan Baum[47][48][49] for Harper’s Magazine[50] in 1994, about President Richard Nixon’s war on drugs, declared in 1971.[51]

      1. Neil: This is quite obviously true. But virtually everyone knows what we men when we say “the War on Drugs.” I guess we say “war,” when we mean something else, just like we usually say something else when we mean war. DJC

    2. The war on drugs is a failure? For who? It has enriched organized crime to the point where it is a real force in finance and politics almost world wide. It has eroded basic civil liberties and expanded police departments into quasi-military forces with a ‘shoot to kill’ mentality. Gawd help people of colour or poor white people.
      This stupid mentality of a war on citizens also reinforces a sense of despair in most thinking people and alienates them from a corrupt system. Just what the capitalists want. Now you will have to excuse me while I have a cup of coffee.

  4. What more can be said? Danielle Smith and the UCP lie, and whatever problems are caused by their horrible decisions, they aren’t shown until after the provincial election is over. However, some of us aren’t that stupid, and would avoid supporting these phony conservatives and Reformers to begin with. As far as Postmedia goes, it should fold like a cheap tent. All they do is prop up the conservatives, and their columnists never criticize them for their very pricey shenanigans, and other big blunders. Anyone who does criticize these phony conservatives and Reformers gets called nasty names in the comment sections of Postmedia newspapers.

  5. Thank you for giving light to the state of the provincial strategy for substance use. By calving off resources into a separate ministry, the care system for the brain is has come full circle and is separate from the physical care health system once again. Not much notice from the public for this traditionally deviantized demographic. Could this move be an obscured wedge for privatization as the newest funding flowing into the “recovery” model is going to private providers?

    1. When seemingly every UCP move trends in that direction I can little doubt you surmise correctly.

  6. “When the Star’s and Postmedia’s bosses said yesterday they need to join forces to fend off an “existential threat,” readers can be assured that the result will be more closed newspapers, more lousy near-identical websites and more laid-off journalists.”
    Past practice echos David’s words. It’s already happened at the Toronto Star since its recent downsizing with more to come if the Competition Bureau permits this merger. All the more reason to financially support Alberta Politics and like minded blogs.

  7. As we all know by now, Tricky Dick declaring war on drugs back in ’71 had nothing to do with drugs. It has become painfully obvious, neither is the UCP’s war on drugs. It is about pandering to the base, increasing police powers and funneling dollars to the religious right.

  8. Thank you DJC, for writing this. Just a note: the majority of those dying are not overdosing. They are being poisoned by an increasingly toxic street supply of drugs, so a more accurate description is drug poisoning deaths. The UCP insists on continuing the War on Drugs, which is in reality a war on drug users. Addiction funding is directed mainly to treatment centres with 12-step programs, which have not been proven to work. Our children are dying.

    https://www.npr.org/2014/03/23/291405829/with-sobering-science-doctor-debunks-12-step-recovery (There are many similar studies).

    The implementation of the Portugal model would provide a glimmer of hope, but I don’t see it happening while the UCP are in power. To be fair, there wasn’t much chance of it happening under the NDP, either. People with substance use disorder are seen as disposable, except to their loved ones.

    And I agree with you that if the Competition Bureau allows the Postmedia-Torstar merger, their existence would be a “purposeless waste of money.”

    1. GMG: Thank you for your point about “drug poisoning.” I will use that phrase henceforth – although with some discomfort. “Overdose” is firmly entrenched in the language, and “drug poisoning” always sounds to me rhetorical and euphemistic. I suppose I’ll have to get used to it. DJC

      1. ..”get used to it”? Hopefully not! But we have many duties. One of them is to protect life. I’m sure our “constitution” ignored that primal encouragement. How we meet our obligation? Well, now that will reveal our intelligence! A song for the smarty pants in government right now? I’m torn. Oh well. This is this! https://youtu.be/65Ia4Qti6_s?t=13

  9. First off, has there been any noticeable increase in the influence of Republican policies, personalities and “think tanks” since the success of TBA in infiltrating the UCP? Has anyone looked at US financial contributions channeled through Canada’s alphabet soup of right wing orgs?

    Second, when the talk of a TorStar-PostMedia merger hit the news, I figured it was a diversion from something more nefarious. But now that the new logo was leaked (Ed: it was?), and the proposed moniker will be PostStar, we can all scratch our heads in wonder. As we know, after a star dies there’s only a black hole. A sad day indeed. Keep supporting local sites, bloggers and the Globe!

  10. It’s been a weird week. I won’t even mention Leduc. I’m pretty sure a slight majority of people in Alberta really don’t care about anything as long as nothing interrupts their own little world. Thank you for continuing to point out things that really do matter to the rest of us. It’s still June. This month has been exhausting.

  11. Regarding the ongoing other pandemic of drug abuse related deaths, keep in mind that the UCP’s ideological bent on the issue is that addicts, who we’ll call by religious colloquialism “the fallen”, are not worthy of care or salvation. And on top of that, they don’t vote (for UCP) or, likely, pay taxes, so whatever. Both side of the issue have pretty much dropped the ball by failing to do the right thing, that is treat addiction as a public health issue (not a criminal one) and actually implement the strategies that are certain to deal with this health crisis. What strategies? Look around the rest of the world and pick the one that was the most effective. (Portugal, anyone, anyone?)

    On the matter of another big media merger, who cares? Even the merged entities will keep losing money, relying of the federal government’s meager hand outs to hold off complete collapse.

    Postmedia survives by the hand of Trudeau? David Staples will have another fit.

    1. JM: I disagree with you that addicts will never vote UCP. This may be the UCP’s perception, but I believe that in fact a majority of them in Alberta do. I suspect this is mainly about one well-placed person’s vanity, NIMBYism about the location of safe injection clinics, and the fact that the brother of a certain former UCP premier did business in the unregulated addictions counselling business and there is money to be made there. It’s hard to say, but it’s quite possible the war on drugs has resulted in more casualties than any other genocidal campaign in world history. DJC

      1. The Nixons’ dad is on the board of the mustard seed as well. I believe he was (a) or (the) founder. I can’t recall and I can’t be bothered to look it up.

      2. Once again I’m disappointed in the mainstream medias’ lack of concern regarding Kenney’s family taking their turn at the trough, while drug users continue to die in record numbers. How about a look at the controversy surrounding their departure from B.C.?

    2. A huge number of drug users in this province voted UCP, cocaine guarantees that kind of hubris and it’s VERY popular with right wing chud types. It’s more about them convincing themselves their drug use is glamourous and cool, as opposed to more impure versions of the drug. They’re still dying though, because the supply itself is toxic, and believing you have the moral high road isn’t actually a protection from anything.

  12. Hello DJC and fellow readers and commentators,
    I think it would be helpful to know more about how and why people become addicted to these harmful drugs. Are there any really good studies that research this? Following that, are there any good studies on how to reverse this? Of course, as DJC points out, there are some better ways to keep people alive in the meantime, for example, safe consumption sites and safe drugs in those sites, while we can, hopefully, encourage people to stop using drugs. Of course, stability including housing etc. likely will improve the situation, too.
    The unfortunate potential merger of Torstar and Post Media is not surprising, and will lead to the end of a somewhat more balanced approach that Torstar provided in Canadian media. I am concerned that this merger will influence Canada to be more neo-liberal and more divided since only one perspective will be available in the major print media. The National Post’s perspective often shows contempt for anyone who is even the slightest bit inclined to fairness or social responsibility. National Post columnists resort to name calling and statement of opinion as facts. Its columnists are clever with the use of language to create impressions, which is what many readers take away, yet the columnists fail to provide any evidence whatsoever. These columns are designed to deceive readers into supporting policies designed specifically to funnel money towards the already rich at the cost of the environment and citizens’ decent standard of living/quality of life.
    It appears the parent company of Post Media Inc has already paid a fine in the U S with respect to its trading between its entities in order to increase share prices. This parent company is owned by a secretive neo-liberal individual with a specific agenda which likely is not in the interests of ordinary citizens.

  13. ‘Ideological solutions ‘….as in Jason Stephan cutting the ribbon in Red Deer @ the Red Deer Dream Centre…..we are going to see miracles……
    Right ! Call me skeptical, but I’d really like to see the financial details of this one, and is this one part of list of planned centers??
    When trying to figure out what someone is up to, especially when there’s too much information to muddle through, it usually works out, that you break it down to the simplest form, which imho is
    — Follow The Money —
    because that’s become the driving force in the majority of decisions (some will say power, but one leads to the other or are used together for control)

    Which leads to the ‘Star/Post merger….I wish I could say I’m shocked- NO– , surprised NOT even a little. What did surprise me, caught me off guard was listening to the news and hearing a voice I recognized, that I hadn’t heard in awhile— one Rachel Curran – currently ‘Public Policy Manager’ for Facebook Canada…..wait what ???
    the same Rachel Curran who served as policy director for former PM , S.Harper……

    Well isn’t that just special !!
    It’s been pretty low key since the by-elections, and now I see why. So long independent newspapers, goodbye journalists, welcome to your AI generated news anchor, who looks almost like a real person, reading you your chat news…..coming to you in real time.
    For those of us old enough to remember- welcome to the twilight zone– and that was back in the days of black & white TV. Today’s version is coming to you in Technicolor.

    POGO, the elixir isn’t going to help today…..sigh !! and the ants in the garden is one thing; the slugs, not so much…time for the Doctor??

  14. As someone who has spent years pointing out in Letters to the Editors of rural newspapers what these phony conservatives are doing to us there is no question things have changed and they aren’t printing them anymore. Keeping their people stupid likely contributed to the way a lot of them voted, or maybe they are just really that dumb? I still have a hard time believing they would be prepared to give up their healthcare services so they can brag about supporting a lunatic like Danielle Smith knowing she has nothing good planned for them, but then one of these fools told me that the doctors and nurses won’t leave because they are the highest paid in Canada, just like Tyler Shandro taught him. Totally ignorant of the fact that we already have a huge shortage and have never fully recovered from what Klein did to us.

  15. Thank you Dave.
    Good post on a terrible subject. A small typo alters the meaning of one of your statements. The linked source indicates number of toxic drug deaths this April was *higher*, or *had increased* by more than 46% of the number of deaths from April of last year.
    The source is also a little inconsistent, because the two monthly death totals given are 179 and 123. That is an increase of 45.5284…%. Could be called ‘more than 45%’ or just 46% as the closest integer figure.

    1. Doug: I have amended it. Hope I got it right. I hate describing the deaths of human beings as if they were just statistics. DJC

  16. There’s a number between this number also, that belies an extreme human sacrifice. Most of these people have succumbed to a drug poisoning MULTIPLE times and either been revived by volunteers, community members, outreach workers, or first responders (except for cops, who are bullies and worthless in this situation). Many times when these people are brought back they are upset because they want to die because they have literally no hope, and they know they’re already on the way out.

    So what I’m saying is this number should actually be MUCH higher if it wasn’t for these folks, and their sacrifice, and the mental and physical toll on these folks that are absolutely heroic is hardly ever talked about; and is likely incalculable.

  17. Does safe supply work? Depends on how much it substitutes rather than supplements the street supply. The safe injection site in Calgary’s Beltline attracts all sorts of undesirable behavior, including drug dealers across the street seeking convenient access to their customers.

    One month of data does not indicate a trend.

    1. Doug: Safe supply saves lives. It doesn’t necessarily get people off drugs. But they can’t recover if they’re dead. You’re right about one-month trends. But at some point it will become obvious, even to you, that I’m right. How many people will have died in the meantime? DJC

      1. I stand by my first comment. Supposed safe supply might work if it doesn’t increase overall supply, which means the “war on drugs” must continue. It is very easy to watch addicts exiting the Chumir Centre and heading right across 4th St to score more. Drugs, even safe ones, have the tendency to make users seek more drugs.

        The next few years should provide lots of data as BC and AB share largely the same supply of street drugs while pursuing markedly different directions on allegedly safe supply.

        1. Thanks, Doug. Could you provide me with a citation to support this assertion? “Drugs, even safe ones, have the tendency to make users seek more drugs.” I agree that the date from the B.C. and Alberta experiments will be interesting and informative. I am willing to admit I’m wrong if the data shows I am. I think that’s unlikely, however. If I am, though, I’m counting on you to remind me. DJC

        2. If someone else chooses to use drugs, they made the choice and they are responsible for the consequences. If we incarcerate someone for using drugs, we made the choice, and now we are responsible for the consequences.

          If someone is living their life and are the victim of violent crime, we are not responsible. If we incarcerate someone and they are the victim of violent crime while in our “care,” we are responsible.

          Does incarcerating drug users lead to better or worse outcomes? From https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/jr/jf-pf/2020/aug01.html#:~:text=Recidivism%20of%20federal%20offenders%20is,from%20a%202007%2F2008%20cohort.:

          “The prevalence of recidivism varies from 9% to 90% in the studies presented below. This is largely due to differences in how recidivism is defined. […] *A person whose pathway through the CJS includes police, courts and corrections is at particular risk of re-offending.* […] *Given that chronic offenders (five or more re-contacts) account for a large proportion of criminal incidents,* understanding the factors related to recidivism could have an important impact on crime in Canada.”

          Perhaps we are spending more policing drug addicts for harming themselves than we do policing violent criminals for harming others? From https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/rcvd-fdffndr/index-en.aspx:

          “The reconviction rate for all the releases in the first year was 44% with the reconviction rate for violence considerably lower (14%). The non-violent reconviction rate was 30% accounting for the majority of reconvictions.”

          Non-violent criminals end up being re-incarcerated (at tremendous expense and extremely dubious morality and efficacy) at a *higher* rate than violent ones.

          From https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/85-002-x/85-002-x1999012-eng.pdf:

          “Spending on six sectors of the justice system – policing, courts, legal aid, criminal prosecutions, adult corrections and youth corrections – totalled almost $10 billion in 1996/97. This was the equivalent of $337 for every person in Canada.”

          The google search string ‘inflation from 1997 to 2023 in canada’ claims an 89.4% rise, so our 10 billion becomes 18.94 billion. Let’s pretend we kept spending at 10 billion per year though. 26 years at 10 billion per year is 260 billion dollars. What could we have accomplished with that money? What have we accomplished, besides shattering families and ruining lives?

          This site: https://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/research/forum/e073/e073c-eng.shtml#:~:text=Risk%20of%20recidivism%20Approximately%2038.2,0001) – has a chart sorting recidivism rates according to addiction levels. I can’t copy/paste the chart so I’ll summarize.

          None – 22%
          Low – 21%
          Moderate – 24%
          Substantial – 37%
          Severe – 44%

          I did not cherry pick my data. Each of these sites was the first credible one I went to for search strings such as ‘recidivism rate among drug addicts canada.’

          Can you or anyone else *please* show any data to support your claims that the “war on drugs” is a)necessary, b)ethical, or c)effective at getting people to stop using illegal drugs? The harm caused is real, the only benefit gained is, as near as I can tell, a feeling of self-righteousness among a vocal minority of Canadian citizens who have never had to interact with the justice system and have never lost a family member, loved one, or valuable employee to incarceration.

          1. Now I’ve got the bit in my teeth and I can’t stop. Let’s completely forget about moral arguments and just look at dollars and cents. How much does the taxpayer spend to turn an infant into an 18 year old worker? How long does that worker have to work in order to repay the taxpayer’s investment? How long does that worker have to work to pay for the incarceration of a prisoner?

            All of my data is presented in good faith and was taken from the uppermost credible looking source google presented. No cherry picking or deliberate omissions.

            According to the Fraser Institute*, Quebec has the lowest level of per-student spending at $10,992. I like my math like politicians like their voters (simple and unlettered) so I’m gonna round that to 11k and multiply that by 13, for a minimal education cost per citizen of $143,000 dollars. I can’t find the cost per child for health care in canada, but according to the CMA** non-seniors cost 2,700 per year to the health care system. Health care costs tend to rise with age, so let’s say a kid costs a thousand annually on average. There’s another 18 grand the taxpayer spends raising a kid so we’re up to $161,000.

            Solid data is getting hard to find. Maternity benefits last up to 15 weeks at 55% of your regular salary (up to 650 per week) and the median Canadian woman’s salary in 2020 was 36k*** which comes out to 692 per week, so we’ll say 15 weeks at 650 per week and that’s another 9,750 that I’m gonna round to 10k cause I’m lazy. Current tally $171,000.

            Parental benefits can be up to 40 weeks shared between parents, at the same 55% and you can get them as well as maternity. 650*40=26,000. Current tally $197,000.

            Also keep in mind that is 55 weeks a citizen is not working, therefore, not paying taxes. Keeping math simple we’ll add another 10 grand (keep reading and you’ll see where I get that figure from). $207,000

            Child Care Benefit was hard to calculate****. For a married couple with both members working for median salary in BC with one child born Jan 1 2023, the taxpayer pays $3,591.48, so 3,500 cause I’m lazy. 3,500*18=63,000. Current tally $270,000.

            lol this can’t be my whole day and let’s be real, I’m not exactly a fully funded think tank, so I’m not going to try to calculate the dental benefit, CPP children’s benefit, disability benefits, costs incurred by child abuse etc etc etc. So far, the *minimum direct cost to the taxpayer to raise a child to 18 is $270,000.*

            There are also indirect costs. For example, every hour a parent spends raising their child is an hour they are not at work driving the economy and generating tax revenue, so there is a large opportunity cost to the taxpayer that I have no idea how to even guess at.

            So according to my extremely scientific and scholarly methodology (I math like a high schooler, not a vulcan) It costs the taxpayer at least $270,000 to turn an infant into an 18 year old Canadian.

            StatsCan has the median Canadian making 39,880 rounded to 40k.***** The OECD claims the average single worker faces a net average tax rate of 25.1%.****** 40,000*0.251=10,040 rounded to 10k cause lazy. Yes this method is imperfect, I’m a reasonable adult dropping a few hours on google, not a fully funded graduate student. If you can find a better figure, please share it with me, this was not easy for me.

            This means the average worker must work full time for 26 years in order for the taxpayer to recoup their investment. If they die before they are 44 years old, they are a net loss to the taxpayer.

            Now, it costs a hundred grand per year to incarcerate a Canadian. Remember people in prison aren’t working and paying taxes, so we also lose the ten grand they would have contributed to tax coffers. Every year a citizen spends in prison is another 11 years they must work full-time in order for the taxpayer to be made whole on their investment. Every citizen who spends four or more years incarcerated will be a net loss for the taxpayer.

            *If I told you that you have to work full time for 11 years to pay for every year a drug user is incarcerated, would that change how you felt about the war on drugs?*

            Note that all of this research is completely wasted if I’m presenting it to someone who won’t say out loud that the reason they support the war on drugs is because they are trying to stack the deck against non-white people. I’m not calling the OP racist btw, reasonable adults can be deceived and it’s unwise and unkind to attribute to malice what could be attributed to ignorance. Elected politicians, on the other hand, have access to much more reliable data than I do. They could easily reach this conclusion for themselves. So why is it that the politicians who claim to value fiscal responsibility the most are also the politicians who support the war on drugs?







        3. One would think that one of the goals of the drug war would be decrease the profits and therefor the political power of drug organizations. Safer supply not only provides users with substances that will not kill them, it very OBVIOUSLY kills the profit motive for pushing said substances, see cannabis for a recent example. It’s also what we do for other drugs that are more socially acceptable but just as harmful to the social fabric of our society, like alcohol.

          Your cowardly framing betrays your attempt to put this in humanitarian terms. Drug users are people too, the vast majority of them are not homeless, they don’t deserve to die because of your prejudice.

        4. The vast majority of drug users of any substance are not addicts. It’s known as the 80/20 rule and it’s absolutely why folks addicted to substances deserve our sympathy. 80 percent of folks can use whatever they want and have generally no issue, consuming roughly 20 percent of a given substance or activity (ie gaming, gambling, whatever). The other 20 percent become completely dependent, and consume 80 percent of what is available on the market. The other thing is, especially for elicit substances, we generally do not see the 80 percent of users, just the 20 percent.

    2. I’ve never understood this objection to safe supply sites. Pretend you’re selling popcorn, and there was a building that gave out popcorn for free. Would you go there to sell popcorn? Pretend you’re buying popcorn. Would you pay money for it when you could get it for free right across the street? Now pretend that some of the popcorn that is for sale is poisonous, and the free popcorn is safe. How much money are you going to spend on popcorn? smh

      1. Neil: I think one of the problems with safe supply is that some clinics check illegal drug supplies for toxicity 0 because the state is too squeamish to actually supply a replacement drug. Indeed, we can’t get a national pharmacare plan for any lifesaving drugs. Late capitalism. DJC

    3. Sorry, accidentally posted before I was done. Let’s suppose you’re right, and safe injection sites attract drug dealers. Now we know where to deploy narcs. If this problem exists, it is a liability that can very easily be turned into an asset.

    4. Sorry again, this was so inexplicable to me that I figured I must be missing something obvious and googled it. I was mistaken – safe supply sites give out prescription alternatives to street drugs – ie methodone instead of heroin. Now it makes sense to me why people say they attract drug dealers.

      I had thought they simply gave out free drugs. This seems so simple and obvious to me. Way cheaper to give people drugs that could be safely and (relatively) cheaply made by the government than to keep needlessly burying Canadian citizens, each of whom is an extremely expensive investment. Also cheaper than incarceration – we spend a hundred grand per year per male prisoner, a buck ten for women. Also cheaper than police, lawyers, judges, courts and parole officers. Note these are economic arguments, not moral ones. Remember when people cared about fiscal responsibility? If we were to talk morality I’d say it seems better to let a person say “my body, my choice” than to use police violence to take them from their families and communities and lock them up in crime infested prisons. Ever hear the phrase “Con College?” How about “recidivism?”

      When we incarcerate parents, we harm children. When we incarcerate children, we harm parents. When we incarcerate taxpayers, we harm the economy. Everyone is someone’s hero. Nobody knew or cared who any “great person” was until after they did the thing that made them “great.” How many potential “great people” have we unwittingly destroyed? We’ve wasted tens of billions of dollars over 70+ years and destroyed countless lives failing to force people to stop using recreational drugs, can we please try something different?

      Also, let’s talk freedom for a second. How come the people and politicians who talk the most about freedom are also the ones who want to take this freedom away from others?

      If an anti-vaxxer can say “my body, my choice,” why can’t a drug user?
      If a person who wants to die can say “my body, my choice” why can’t a drug user?
      If a trans person can say “my body, my choice,” why can’t a drug user?

      This has puzzled me for decades. I understand these drugs are not good for you and have costs to society and I’m not advocating that anyone take them, but please consider that Police violence and incarceration are also not good for you and also have costs to society. We’ve learned to live with tobacco and alcohol, which kill far more people than all illicit drugs combined, how are these worse?

      Remember all the fearmongering about marijuana? Now it’s legal, and basically nothing has changed, except we have saved a ton of money on police and prisons while depriving organized crime of a revenue source, we’ve made it legal to do actual research into possible medical benefits of the plant and/or its extracts, and we have a bunch of people who are taxpayers and community members instead of convicted felons.

      Seriously, what the actual hell? At no point in time has this ever made a lick of sense to me, and the more research I do, the less sense it makes.

      If you could choose, would you rather spend a year as a drug addict, or a year in prison? Which would you choose for someone you loved? Which group has better health outcomes, and which has better financial prospects for the future? Would it be morally worse to use Police violence to force someone to become addicted to drugs for a year, or to put them in a prison for a year? I understand reasonable adults might come down on either side of this, but you have to admit, it would be a tough decision.

      /sighs heavily, gets off soapbox, trudges sadly away dragging soapbox behind him/

      1. There is an org In Vancouver that is 100% giving safe heroin and cocaine and other drugs to addicts for free, which is a growing movement…

  18. ‘something more nefarious’ ??
    do you mean something like S.Harper posting on Twitter….
    My thanks to all @IDUAlliance members who participated in the IDU’s 40th anniversary Forum in London. It was a pleasure to gather with centre- right leaders to discuss freedom, democracy and the geopolitical challenges we face. Special thanks to our outstanding speakers including @Mlike Pompeo @Boris Johnson @RW_UNP @James Cleverly @ Poroshenko @Scott Morrison MP @ Erna_Solberg @HonTonyAbbott @trusliz @Lord Ashcroft.”

    (oddly enough, no mention of the moonie church representative, and I guess Newt was busy….but I guess he couldn’t thank everyone in one Tweet. )

  19. Just going to post this as a reminder after all this talk of chaos and social disorder. Most people that use drugs have homes and jobs and families and you have no idea they use drugs. Your friends, your neighbours, your coworkers. The vast majority of drug poisonings happen at home, alone, to otherwise upwardly mobile people. This is not just the houseless community, it’s your community, it’s your church, it’s your sports team, it’s your social circle. These are the folks that are being killed by the UCP and their failed drug policy, everyday Albertans.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.